The Gustavian Weekly

What’s happening in the Arb? - The Gustavian Weekly

By Tori Smith - Staff Writer | October 9, 2020 | Variety

The Linnaeus Arboretum, commonly known as “the Arb,” at Gustavus is a special spot for students, faculty and the surrounding St. Peter community. It is a space used by many to relax by hammocking, lounging in the grass, walking the trails or taking a jog through the forest.
The Arb’s 125 acres, which looks roughly like the shape of Minnesota from above, include restored natural areas representing Minnesota biomes including tallgrass prairies, wetlands, coniferous forests and deciduous woods.
This past spring, part of the tall prairie grass was set afire in a controlled burn. This process helps maintain the health of native plants, manage weeds and restore nutrients to the soil. This helped create a healthier environment over the summer and now the fall, as the grass is currently tall and healthy.
Senior Brie Wintz is a student worker in the Arb.
“There are three other student workers, so four of us in total. It’s a great place to work because you get to interact with the naturalists on campus and just be outside,” Wintz said.
Wintz described some of the ‘behind the scenes’ of the Arb’s upkeep.
“We do a lot of mulching, and we do some invasive species pulls. Be aware that these pulls might be happening throughout the fall,” Wintz said.
Student workers like Wintz also help with programming for the Arb. On top of mulching, planting flowers, and other physical upkeep of the trails, Wintz helps plan events like last weekend’s ‘forest bathing.’
“There was an event called ‘forest bathing’ which is essentially meditation in the prairies. About twenty students attended and had journals and went to the arb to learn about what ‘forest bathing’ is like,” Wintz said.
Wintz also encourages others to consider trying this on their own time.
Normally, the Arb puts on events like the Back to School: Treats and Trees event, normally held in September. During this event, students were invited to play yard games and make dirt pudding cups. This year, however, student and community engagement will have to look a bit different.
Wintz also explained another program that will be taking place in the Arb the week of October 12.
Students can take a break from classes and get some fresh air in the Arb to learn about bird watching, native species, plants and more. These 15-minute info sessions will be taught by some of Gustavus’s education students and will follow COVID-19 guidelines of mask-wearing and social distancing.
While larger events in the Arb may not be able to take place this year, the Arb has been creative in order to keep up student interaction.
This year, the Arb introduced a Photo Contest that students can participate in through Friday, Oct. 16. Students can follow the Arb’s Facebook and Instagram and submit up to three recent photos of the Arb for a chance to be chosen as a featured photo and win a gift card.
On top of the four-week contest, the Arb is also hosting weekly photo challenges as a way to keep students and community members engaged and participating in all the Arb has to offer. All students have to do to participate is take a photo in the Arb that is related to that week’s prompt. For example, this week’s prompt is “best fall color photo”, so participants would go out and take a picture of the fall colors.
These virtual activities that the Arb has put on not only engage the community remotely, but also encourage students to go out and visit the Arb in all its autumn glory.
During this pandemic, many students are feeling isolated and trapped inside their dorms, but the Arb is making it easy for students to enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Before the weather gets colder and the snow starts to fall, students and community members are looking towards the Arb for an escape from the stress.

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